Do you feel lucky?

30 09 2010

There’s something for everyone this week. Get outside and learn about slugs or save a turkey, or stay in and enjoy the beauty of art and fashion.

You could also be lucky enough to win stuff! Email (SUBJECT:SANTANA) to win Santana’s hologram emblazoned glory, “Guitar Heaven: Deluxe Edition.”

Ugh! a Slug! – Nature walk presented by CRD Regional Parks. SATURDAY 1-2:30pm at Mill Hill Regional Park. Free. 250-478-3344,

Live Painting Demonstration – With our resident artists Keith Hiscock and his daughter Sarah Lang. SATURDAY 2-4pm at the Morris Gallery (428 Burnside E).

Oktoberfest – Edelweiss Club’s October celebration. Featuring the Silver Stars. SATURDAY 6pm at the Victoria Edelweiss Club (108 Niagara). $23/17. 250-477-7665.

Butterfly Places & Pumpkin Faces – Tours, pumpkin carving, face painting and petting zoo. Fundraiser for the Victoria Hospital Association. Activities by donation. SUNDAY 3pm at Victoria Butterfly Gardens. $10/$5. 250-414-6688.

Save-A-Turkey Trot – A vegan-themed 5k run/walk. SUNDAY 11am at Clover Point. $2.

Random Acts of Poetry Week – Poets across Canada visit juvenile detention centres, alternative schools and youth centres MONDAY to October 9. 250-642-3542.

All About Girlfriends – A History of Leading Through Style charity fundraiser. Fashion show proceeds go to the Minerva Foundation for B.C  Women.  WEDNESDAY 4pm at Alix Goolden Hall (907 Pandora). $35. 250-588-1119.

Olio Takes Stock

27 09 2010

The outdoor stages have been taken down, the bands have loaded up their tour vans and local music fans are sitting at their desks nursing hangovers—Rifflandia 3 is officially over. But if you want to relive some of the magic that happened over the last four days in Victoria—as well as take in some fantastic local art—swing by the Olio Cooperative at 614 1/2 Fisgard to check out the Live!Stock poster exhibition.

This is the third year that local artists have been tapped to create original posters for some of Rifflandia’s major acts, with this year’s 13-artist roster including the likes of Shawn O’Keefe, Luke Ramsey and Evan Pine. The show is up until October 16, so if you missed it this weekend, there’s still time to check it out—and, if something really strikes you, prints of the posters are available for sale.

Other Artlandia events, such as the Lee Renaldo exhibition, are still on display for a few more days…so be sure to check them out, too. Full details are here.

Chad VanGaalen by Luke Ramsey

Chali 2na

Meaghan McDonald's Frog Eyes poster was made with ketchup and mustard and printed on meat paper

Joey MacDonald's Gord Downie puzzle poster

The Party’s Over, The Candles Flicker and Dim

27 09 2010

Bucan Bucan, and the Final Words.

Um, I’m tired. I was tired before I went out. I didn’t think I would dance. I danced.

Bucan Bucan made me dance. Bucan Bucan made me holler. Bucan Bucan made me go to Big Bad John’s after the show and drink “Jager-Bombs.”

Ok that last one may be a bit of stretch, but I tell you these wackos really know how to party.  It was a treat to watch all the heads turn away from the empty stage at Club 9One9, where people were expecting the band to appear, and toward the rear of the club where the trill of horns and the smack of drums could be heard. The numerous members of Bucan Bucan came out through the crowd, dancing and carousing, and in general just causing good-natured trouble. What fun!

From there, these Gypsy rabble-rousers proceeded to work the dance floor into a real mess.  The good kind of mess, where folks forget whatever they think they’re about and just get silly and loose for a while. At one point I’m sure that the band was chanting something like a mixture between the oompa loompa song and the Hare Krishna mantra. Not properly klezmer, not properly, well, anything, this performance was fully delightful. After the show, my buddy Eric excitedly encouraged me to touch his shirt. “I’ve never sweated this much into a garment in my life,” he said. And the shirt was indeed super-saturated.  No one left the dancefloor unsatisfied on this occasion.

Ok, serioulsy, I’m “peacing-out”,  as the kids say. I’ve had a blast covering this wonderful third edition of Rifflandia, and I’m walking away grateful to live in this city, and especially inspired by all the strong local talent we have here. Thanks to the organizers and volunteers that made the festival possible, and to all the artists who brought their best to the stage for our enjoyment. It’s been a pleasure. . .  .

—Jay Elliott Morritt

Times Neue Roman, Kathryn Calder, The Gaslamp Killer

26 09 2010

Cough. Yep, I’m getting a cold. Double-cough—oh shit, my apartment is full of smoke! I had just put on some water to boil before sitting down at my computer to start writing—or so I thought. Turns out I lit the wrong burner and basically incinerated my big cast iron fry pan. Oh you would have laughed to see me fumbling to prop my kitchen window open with a woodblock, squinting through the thick smoke and cursing, while the fire alarm stabbed at my eardrums, then knocking over a glass of water, cursing ever-more loudly, and finally, gingerly and with towel-wrapped hand, hefting the red-hot skillet out onto the window ledge to cool off.  I swear I’m not always this stupid. Sometimes my plans actually pan out (ugh, pun I didn’t see coming, so it has to stay). Sometimes I get it right. Like when I decided to see Times Neue Roman (TNR) at Rifflandia, for example.

The moment I first heard TNR’s song “Roq Roq”, I knew these guys were up to something special. The more I dug into their story, the more intrigued I became. And so I made sure to meet up with Arowbe and Alexander The before their set last night at the Upstairs Cabaret. The following interview  took place outside the club, on a bench in Bastion Square:

Interview with Times Neue Roman

Alexander The:  What made you want to interview us?

Jay Morritt:  I was just sifting through all the artists involved in the festival who I didn’t know about, going through MySpace pages and YouTube, trying to figure out who I wanted to check out, and I found your video for Roq Roq. It was just so fresh. My ears perked right up and I thought “I gotta look into these guys.”

Arowbe:  Cool.

JM:  And then I dug around some more, and I found out that you guys did your first performance at the Vancouver Art Gallery, in 2008. I was hooked at that point. I wanted to know more. How did the gig at the gallery materialize?

Arowbe:  They had an exhibit there called The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art, and a friend of mine, Tom Cone, a playwright in Vancouver, recommended me to be involved in some way—he knew me as a poet and performer.  The timing was crazy, because we’d just finished recording twenty tracks for TNR, all this Nintendo-themed stuff, and so I got in touch with the gallery and they were really enthusiastic about what we were doing.  We did a few performances for that show—we worked with Candelario Adrade, who was doing live visuals and animation, and I also did a piece, a narrative poem with live animation called Orpheus, with Alexander The on keyboard.  Orpheus is about to be re-mounted, on Friday, at the TEDx conference in Toronto.

JM:  Awesome.  Not a lot of hip-hop artists start off in an art gallery, I don’t think. Then again, do you guys even consider yourselves hip-hop?—I’m kinda guessing no.

Arowbe:  Rap-Deco is what we’ve been saying lately (laughs), because it’s pretty decadent, a lot of art for art’s sake, but we’ve just finished recording our new album, and we don’t even know what it is. It’s not Nintendo-Punk-Rap, which we’ve been called before. It’s not necesarlily Rap-Deco—

AT:  We just sat down for Sushi and talked about this, and we’re a little confused about what to call our new sound. But that’s the best thing, I think, to just accomplish something and then move forward.

Arowbe:  The new record has a lot of horns, and a lot more live instruments. A lot less synths, but they’re still in there.

JM:  Something else I’m interested to know about is the U-Haul performances. Tell me about that.

AT:  That was a renegade idea I had for the Nuit Blanche festival in Toronto. I had a hundred dollars, and I got together some musicians and rented a U-haul truck. We drove around to different locations at the festival performing in the U-Haul. It was amazing. We did it again here, two weeks ago, in Vancouver. We performed at six different locations—we had Candelario doing projections—we did Granville St—-

Arowbe:  Outside of Celebrities night club it turned into this crazy dance party inside the truck, and in Gastown we had girls like go-go dancing on top of dumpsters. It was real wild.

AT:  Three times we had to pull getaways from the cops, which went really clean, so we have to thank all the kids who were partying with us for getting in the cops’ faces—

Arowbe:  The kids stood in front of the doors to the U-Haul so that they couldn’t get to us, and we could just kinda sneak away to the next spot.

JM:  Wow. That sounds like a super-big blast. You guys are doing pretty well for yourselves—you’ve got a song on EA Sports’ video game Fight Night Round 4, videos on Much Music and MTV, and lots of critical acclaim—what do you think it is about what you’re doing that is so compelling to people?

AT:  When TNR started, we took ideas of hip-hop, ideas of rock, ideas of punk, ideas of electronic, and we just went with it. Sometimes we get critics who come down on us for that, like “it’s not punk, and it’s not hip-hop” but that’s the kind of feedback we appreciate the most, because you can’t pigeon-hole what we’re doing, but anyone can dance to it. As long as you walk away all sweaty, we’ve done our job.

JM:  What’s next—what’s on the horizon?

Arowbe:  Final touches on the album, and we’re finishing this tour—next stop is Toronto, and then Montreal—we’ll be playing some huge venues opening for Radio Radio, we have an Iphone app coming out next week, Alexander The will be recording with his other band Styrofoam Ones, lots of stuff.

AT:  Overall, we’re just really pushing the future, man. We’re not staying stagnant!

—Jay Morritt

Times Neue Roman  took the stage shortly after our interview, and I must say that they did their job.  They started off with “Roq Roq”, loping nintendo-synth sounds over minimal house beats. On the Mic, Arowbe moved expertly from smooth flowing rhythm and rhyme to more staccato chanting-style passages  “What would we be good for if not giving you what you came for?” he asked the increasingly lively dance floor, jumping up and down and in general getting himself, and the crowd, worked up.  Arowbe dropped a mean free-style after that—the man has liquid lips.  On the reggae-mash-up cycling anthem “Hands No Hands” TNR encouraged the audience to follow along to some simple hand gestures, and before long people were happy to let go of their handlebars together.  After they left the stage, I went to reclaim the shirt I had tossed away at some point during the show. I had a good a sheen of sweat on. I got what I came for.

Melissa Auf Der Maur

From the Upstairs Cabaret I made my way over to Market Square to check out ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur. The band was sounding mean, and they rocked pretty hard—for a few minutes my hunger for something dirty, loud, and indulgent (mostly dormant these days, but never quite absent) was awakened and satisfied. However, after seeing something as new and vital as Times Neue Roman, Auf Der Maur’s snarling metal-meets-grunge —all deep hip bends and hair flailing—became way too 1995 for me in a big hurry. I was no big fan of highschool, and although I get nostalgic for the drugs and angsty music every now and then, I don’t ever want to go back.

Whale Tooth

Having escaped the darkness of Market Square (doesn’t it always seem, just a little bit, like  there should be a few ragged-looking horse thieves confined there, withering away in the stocks?), I bounced over to the Victoria Event Centre to catch some of Toronto band Whale Tooth’s set, before headliner Kathryn Calder came on.

Whale tooth play tight, super-dancey rock tunes, with doses of punk, soul and classic rock in the mix. Singer Elise LeGrow is aptly named—this little firecracker of a gal seemed to get bigger and bigger behind the mike as the night went on. Dancing and shaking like a woman possessed, she really brought the noise, and her vocal chops are not to be underestimated. Great energy she had.  But it wasn’t enough to get the crowd (other than me and a girl I met named Claire) up out of their seats.  The Event Centre was not well suited to this act on a few fronts—the sound tech work was less than virtuoso in a venue that doesn’t need any extra help to sound bad, and the tables were pushed almost right up to the stage.  Let me emphasize:  Whale Tooth are a band to dance to!  I lost my mind on the small piece of dance floor I managed to carve out. It was easy for me to project their solid performance into a more appropriate environment and see the sweaty riot that would ensue.

Kathryn Calder

Ok, so here’s the truth:  after Whale Tooth got my booty shaking so hard, I was unsatisfied to sit for long through what was (for the four songs I saw of it) a fine set by Kathryn Calder. The arrangements of her pop rock tunes were interesting and idiosyncratic, there were lovely vocal harmonies (thanks to Victoria musician Megan Boddy, of Frog Eyes), there was nothing to complain about, for sure—but I just wanted to dance. I grabbed my crumpled Rifflandia schedule off the table, stuffed it into my pocket, crunched the last ice cube left over from my gin and tonic, and tumbled into the rain with one thing on my mind:  The Mutha#$*#’n Gaslamp Killer.

The Gaslamp Killer

For the first time in the festival I had to work my VIP status pretty hard to get in the door at Lucky Bar. Apparently, they were at capacity. One massive bouncer was like “we’re not honouring VIP wristbands anymore,” all cold and unsympathetic. But another guy had already assured me I’d be taken care of, and I waved him over to sort out his pal. While my man argued with his massive counterpart, he unhooked the latch and I waltzed through, feeling very important indeed. I could hear Dolf Lundgren protesting, but no matter—I was in.

Holy shit–what a scene inside Lucky! The place was packed, the dancefloor was on fire, bottles and cans on the floor, a furious foosball match somehow going on within the malestrom, extremely complex and ever-shifting clouds of odour swirling, two large video screens flashing bursts of pulsating colour and, on the decks, a man who looked either like an auto mechanic or a mental patient—let’s say both—rocking back and forth violently and doing something with his hands which makes me think he was imagining (or possibly truly seeing) lightning bolts shooting from his finger tips.  The Gaslamp Killer was the closest thing I’d ever seen to your stereotypical mad scientist—he was absolutely possessed by the frantic sonic experiments he was conducting.  Whatever he had bubbling in his beakers, the fumes must have been getting to the crowd, because people were going apeshit! Shaking like he was being electrocuted, and with that big mess of curly hair and his eyes popping out of his skull, The Gaslamp Killer really did look like an overgrown standard poodle having a seizure. Much like the Tunde Olaniran show, complete strangers were brought together by way of just not being able to believe how off the hook this fucker was.  The audience gaped at one another, gazes communicating something like, “Are you seeing this shit!? Is this shit for real!?” Yeah, it was for real.

Back out on the street, the rain was coming down hard. I felt grumpy about it at first, but then I got very Zen and all like “I do not mind the rain. I have no wish for things to be any other way than how they are.” Of course, after witnessing The Gaslamp Killer’s epic meltdown, it wasn’t very hard to feel good, even in a downpour.

And that brings me to tonight. Non-Rifflandia related writing will be keeping me at my desk late into the evening (yes, I do other things besides running around town swilling beer and freaking out on the dance floor), but at 11:30 I’ll head to Club 9One9 for Victoria’s favourite Gypsy marching band, Bucan Bucan. I can’t wait to exercise my all-purpose Eastern European party-guy accent. Everybody Happy!

I’ll be back after that to offer my final reflections on the festival, and to decompress and get ready for another week back in the ordinary world.  Who knows, maybe I’ll go to bed before 3am.


Rifflandia 3//Night 3//Words and Photos

26 09 2010

My head is racing with what to jot down. So much is coming to mind and to play it out so it doesn’t sound like a cluster bomb of random thoughts could prove disaster. So, where to start? Right now as I sit here in front of this laptop, it’s 3 in the morning and I just have to upload photos and that’s it. I’m listening to Hey Rosetta’s ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’ and the lyrics ‘You’ll be an old man soon’ is resounding in my mind and stirring in my heart. Rifflandia is an experience — an experience  that put’s us all in a situation to live in the moment and make those tough choices and to live! “Who should we go see?” “This band is playing here and this band is playing the same time over there” “I saw this band, who did you see?” — conversations like this are endless and exciting. To hear what someone else experienced on the other side of town while you were watching something else. You hear it through their words and you think to yourself ‘If only!’, but in return you share what you saw with them and it goes around and around. My writing partner Jay has caught some great bands and when he explained seeing Tundre play at Sugar I had that overwhelming feeling of ‘Dammit! I missed a good show’ — but that, in my words, is beautiful. To know that this festival was an experience for someone and I got to hear it from them. I come back to the lyrics about being an old man — I’ll be 30 in just days and reflecting on it, it’s gone by fast. Treasure these moments and these experiences. Treasure the minutes waiting in the rain as you and dozens of other people are lined up outside of a venue waiting for capacity to reduce itself so you can go inside. Love every second of running from one end of town to see a show only to miss it by seconds. Embrace this feeling that you have right now — these are the moments you’ll be talking about and sharing for the rest of your lives.

From top to bottom: Pawnshop Diamond//Lola Sparks//Liz Beattie//Rich Acoin//Melissa Auf Der Maur//Hey Rosetta//Hot Hot Heat//Chad VanGaalen//Sarah Harmer

Words and Photos by Casey Bennett

Touched for the Very First Time: Friday Night at Rifflandia

25 09 2010

Thursday night was good, but it wasn’t until last night that this festival delivered the shivers and the shocks.

I met up with Casey Bennett (his wonderful photos of Rifflandia performers are all over this blog) early, so we could coordinate our show-going for max writing-to-pics sync-up,  and I’m afraid that I quickly led him astray. Earlier in the afternoon, I had put a roast in the crockpot my father was so adamant I procure (I resisted at first, slow-cookers carrying a certain low-brow culinary stigma, but as usual the old man was right—they’re just so easy!) but when I went to check on my yummy dinner, I realized I must have fumbled my knob-turning because my sirloin tip was as cold as clay. So I showed up for my meeting with Casey hungry, and I dragged him as fast as I could into the shabby world of convenience food (the Subway across the street from the Metro Theater), for a quick fill up before show time. Thus fed and guaranteed of indigestion, I crossed the street with my brother-in-arms to check out Genevieve Rainey.

Genevieve Rainey

This girl is funny. The songs I heard were playfully self-deprecating meditations on loneliness and longing, but the real story here was the banter between the music. I wonder if she does any work as an MC, and if not then she should. A wonderfully expressive face, great voice, a natural sense of comic timing, the whole shabang. Her stilted anecdotes about text messages from her mom, and the logistics of keeping her friends from posting things to her Facebook page that her mother might be horrified to discover, were really charming. As far as the music goes, Rainey says of herself, “I sound like  a girl singing whilst playing guitar.”  This says a lot about her wry sense of humour, but unfortunately it also lands a little too close to the truth. The songwriting and the vocal performance were fine, but not eyebrow-raising. Still, a personality to keep an eye on, I think. She may yet do great things.

After some good laughs, me and Casey ducked out of Genevieve’s set and over to the Alix Goolden Hall to catch the end of My Lovely Son’s solo act. And that’s when I recieved my first bona-fide love-buzz of the festival.

My Lovely Son


My Lovely Son

Satnam Minhas looked so relaxed and focused on the Goolden stage as he unfurled delicate guitar lines over his gorgeous hushed voice. The emotional climate of his hypnotic melodies was decidedly melancholy, like days I can remember as a kid, in the park, alone with just the sun and grass. Like kinda sad, but also with a sense of wonder and a quiet ache for all that lies ahead.  If you’re familiar with Scottish songwriter Alisdair Roberts, and particularly his old project Appendix Out, then imagine the tender, wistful, bygone-era quality of that stuff, but not as choppy, more like a still lake, less fragile. Wow, I was really impressed with this performance. For an artist who only recently has his first album under his belt, Minhas brings a presence to the stage that feels mature and confident. This is a guy to watch, for sure.  And he’s local. Lucky us!  I was so into his stuff that I tracked down My Lovely Son after his set, and we shared some words:

Jay Morritt:  Tell me about yourself—I don’t know anything about you. You’re local, yeah?

Satnam Minhas:  I was born and raised in Duncan, and I’m working in Victoria now. This year was supposed to be the year that I made a mark on the city, because I spent a lot of time recording my album, and after I was done I was like “what am I going to do with it?” I was living in Duncan, and I decided I had to get into the city—it seemed like the next logical step. So I moved here and started playing shows. Playing here at the Alix Goolden is sorta like the cherry on top for me.

JM:  Yeah, you said, onstage, that this was a dream come true for you.

SM:  I saw Owen Pallett (of Final Fantasy) play here a while ago, and I remember sitting in my seat thinking “good God, what would it be like to play this?”

JM:  You sounded fabulous up there.

SM:  Thanks.  I was thrown off a bit by the sound, because everything was so magestic, and I’m not used to playing such venues!

JM:  So what are your influences?

SM:  That could go every-which-way. There’s some jazz in there, classic folk, Led Zeppelin—I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin as a kid. But melody is the biggest thing for me. I’m trying to challenge the listener, while at the same time pull on their heart-strings. And if you have a chance to listen to them, there’s some old Bollywood tracks from the 60’s and 70’s that are, to me, heart-wrenchingly beautiful, because I grew up listening to that stuff. That’s where the emotion comes from.

JM:  You just radiate this kind of ease, or containment, on stage. It looked so natural for you to be up there. And your guitar work and vocal style weave together so comfortably—I could have listened to that all night and been happy!

SM:  It means a lot that you would say that. This is the first time I’ve put together a body of work of my own, and performed something steadily for a while. I’ve played in bands before and it was so un-fulfilling—it was always a compromise. Now I’m not compromising.

JM:  So you lived your dream of playing the Goolden—what’s next?

SM:  I’m a social worker, but I’m getting layed off, and I’m going to take a break from that work and focus on music. I’m going to be playing some shows in what people out here called “the East”, but which is really Central Canada—Toronto, Montreal—and when I get back from that I’m thinking tentatively of a European tour.

JM:  Yes. Well, please sir, keep making music. Keep doing what you are doing.

SM:  Thanks, I will.

–Jay Morritt

Clay George

After My Lovely Son’s lovely set, Victoria’s Clay George took the stage. He looked like a banker coping with a troublesome stock market—shirtsleeves and suspenders and a world-worn gaze. George hasn’t played out much for the last year or so, but when the elusive singer-songwriter picked up his guitar and started into a jaded finger-style blues ramble, he looked on top of his game. The man’s voice came down like a brick on the audience at the Goolden—heavy and certain, stirring up a cloud of dust. Lost friends, things left unsaid, the search for a sense of home, these were the themes that characterized George’s set. There was the odd love song, too.  Particularly moving was one lament about the folks we see here on the streets, in Victoria:  I bet your father never saw you falling / at the corner of Bridge and Bay / trying to fix your broken face / in the mirror of a car— / can you believe that’s who you are? I wasn’t far off from crying at that point.  George’s work bears the marks of long consideration and care, like a map of somewhere special that’s been folded and refolded, kept in a breast pocket. A strong set from a thoughtful and talented songwriter—I hope we see more of him onstage in the year to come.

Earlier in the day I had chance to meet with Clay. We took a walk to the park next to Christ Church Cathedral, and had a chat:

Jay Morritt: I saw you a couple years ago, at this little show which was upstairs in a house on Fort St., I think. It was a songwriter’s round—you, Carolyn Mark, David P. Smith, and Ryan Beattie. I thought, “what a great environment for a show.”  What sorts of shows do you like playing best?

Clay George:  I like playing situations like that one, because it’s so different than playing in a crowded bar where people are screaming and trying to get laid, and so they’re not really paying attention to the music.  I think tonight will be perfect, because it’s a sit-down environment where people will really be listening. I’ve also played shows at folk societies, where it’s just a room and people really just focused on the show, and that’s nice. The stuff I play, it’s pretty low-key. It’s not really meant to cut through bar noise.

JM:  And the songs are stories, right? I think it’s important that the narrative thread is able to remain  intact, to be held between the audience and the singer.

CG:  Yeah, definitely. That’s half the song.

JM:  So I may be out of the loop—that’s a very real possibility—but you seem to keep a pretty low profile for a guy whose work has been so well recieved, critically.

CG:  Well, things were looking to pick up a while back, as far as performing goes, but I had a bunch of stuff happen, personal stuff. My father passed away—he got really sick and I was travelling back and forth to Toronto—I just had a really terrible year, and so that prevented me from getting work done.  It was unfortunate timing, because I had just signed to a label, 00:02:59 records, and things were in motion, but I just couldn’t do a lot of the stuff that needed to be done. But things are a lot better now.

JM:  What’s on the go at the moment? Is there a new album coming anytime soon?

CG:  Well I ‘ve got a bunch of new songs, but I just haven’t had the time to get them down. But I’m hoping to get something out for next year.

JM:  What are you listening to these days?

CG:  My roomate Megan Boddy was playing Kathryn Calder’s album this morning, and it’s great, man!  I was listening to Chad VanGaalen the other day—I really really like him.  I’m also fond of (a bit under his breath), uh, Opera.

JM:  I did a show recently, opening for Rocky Votolato, and he made a point of mentioning to the audience that you were his inspiration for playing Harmonica. After the show, he told me that he basically ripped off your style.

CG:  (laughs) Right on. That’s funny, because I don’t really know that much about playing the harmonica, but I guess I know a few things–enough to create the illusion that I can actually play it.

JM:  (laughs) Ok, I see a headline for this interview:  Clay George, Illusionist.

CG:  Or Charlatan!

JM:  Wow, alright—you really took it to the next level (laughs). Ok, but one last question:  what’s the most satisfying thing for you about being a musician?

CG:  The most satisfying thing is just those moments when you know that the audience is with you, that you’ve got them.  Maybe I’m just starved for attention or something.

JM:  Well aren’t all performers a bit straved for attention?

CG:  Yeah.  I guess I get the most gratification just from the moments when I know people are hearing what I’m saying—-like when someone comes up to me and says that a particular line from a song really hit them—I don’t think I’m articulating this very well.

JM:  Don’t worry, it will all look very neat once I’ve written it out.

CG: (laughs) Good.  I guess I like giving something, having someone take something positive away from what I’m doing, that’s huge, you know?  Even  if it’s just a sense of something.

JM:  Well I’m looking forward to taking something away from your show tonight.  Thanks for meeting with me, man.

CG:  No problem.  Thanks for asking me.

The Rest of Friday Night

After Clay George’s fine set, the Whitsundays came on, and I disappeared over to Sugar Nightclub. I wanted to catch Detroit’s Tunde Olaniran—I’d read good things, but when I arrived at the club I got scared. It was DeadsVille inside Sugar, just a scattering of distracted-looking party people shuffling around to DJ Sam Demoe. If Olaniran was as outrageous as hip rep suggested (I’ve heard Prince’s lovechild and Kraftwerk both mentioned toward describing his act), then I was beginning to feel bad for what might be a very poor and apathetic turn out.  No worries though, because the man has the power.  Within five minutes of Tunde taking the stage, the drifters and beer-nursers had gathered close. Within ten minutes, most people were dancing. After fifteen minutes, people (me especially) were losing there shit!  Who was this guy, this huge black man in like pristine flowing white coat, elegant long white scarf, with straightened and highlighted hair, dancing like he really just didn’t care, singing like a diva, rapping like an allstar, and just in general being the funnest fucking thing to hit Sugar’s stage, I’m sure, in quite some time?  I dunno, but thank God for Tunde.  One of my fellow show-goers did quite a nice job of summing up Olaniran’s performace. She said it was part talent-show, and part grade 9 girls’ sleepover, where your friend’s mom gets too drunk and is all  “hey girls, check it out”, and then blasts Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” on the stereo while she sings and dances her heart out. I agree, only this wasn’t embarrassing—it was pure gold. In fact, Olaniran’s last song was an amazing cover of “Like a Virgin.”  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an artist take a club that drowsy and make it rock so hard.

Man, there is just so much to say about last night, but I’m running out of time. I’ve gotta head down to the Upstairs Cabaret soon for an interview with Times Neue Roman. I’ll be trying to catch Kathryn Calder and the Gaslamp Killer tonight as well.  But before I go, I just have to mention

The Wooden Sky

These guys were really something special to see. A young band at the height of their power, they absolutely stole the show at the Goolden last night. I honestly felt bad for headlining act Great Lake Swimmers—I wouldn’t have wanted to follow  The Wooden Sky’s performance.  They got a mostly standing O from the crowd, and I figure those who didn’t stand must have been like incapacitated by how righteously these young dudes rocked. I wish I could go into this topic more—how committed each member was to every song, how well they played together, how they reminded me, at times, of early Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers lost in a dark woods (this is a very good thing), on and on. But I can’t, and so I say just check them out—do yourself a favour.

Ok, I really gotta go, but I’ll just say that I eventually made it over to see some of Gord Downey’s excellent set at Market Square (I heard the lights went out for a while, but it didn’t stop old Gord, he just kept rockin), and ended my night dancing  to a very fine DJ set by Egyptrixx, at a packed Lucky Bar.

Ok, into the night!

-Jay E. Morritt.

Rifflandia 3//Night 2 (Photos and Words)

25 09 2010

It’s only been maybe two hours, if that, since the last band played their last song to some very pleased and excited fans. Rifflandia 3 night number 2 was memorable. I did do a lot of bouncing between venues, but I did witness some pretty intense and wacky incidents, one involving Mark, the bassist for Maurice jumping from high atop a stack of speakers onto the stage, and landing incredibly awkwardly, springing back to his feet to finish the song and then hobbling off of the stage and as he passes by says to us “I think I broke my foot!”. Another memorable and magical moment was Gord Downie, well into his fifth song of his set, loses power — everything is out — sound, lights, screens — but it doesn’t faze him or his band. They go right into a jam session, like it was planned all along. The crowd is chanting and Gord is screaming right back at them. Moments later, the sound and lights are restored and just like that, they breeze right back into the song not having even skipped a beat. Amazing!!!

I do have to confess this though, prior to Rifflandia 3, I had not been to a show in quite some time. I feel like this is my opportunity to come clean and admit that. With all of the homegrown talent here on this island we call home. I feel guilty not having taken advantage of the talent that is right here. I love it and I love this feeling I’m having right now. I can’t wait for tomorrow (well, later on today). Where will I be? Who knows? Will it be somewhere good? Yes.

From top to bottom: Genvieve Rainey//My Lovely Son//Steph Macpherson//Jets Overhead//Gord Downie//The Great Lake Swimmers//List

Words and Photos by Casey Bennett

Getting to Know my Neighbour

24 09 2010

Have you ever tried to repair the soles of your dancing shoes with duct tape? Last night, getting ready to go out and catch the first string of this year’s Rifflandia shows, that’s just what I did. I’ve been meaning to take them into the cobbler for months, but I don’t like the idea of not having them around in case I need them. So, at about 8pm, I was eating hotdogs and going all Red Green on my favourite pair of sliders. Not bad—serviceable, perhaps, I thought, wiping  ketchup from my chin. And then I had a better idea:  why not try the stapler?

As you may be guessing, I’d had a couple pre-clubbing warm up drinks. And why not? I was feeling good, knowing as I did that I would be working hard on the dance floor at Lucky Bar in a few hours, grooving to Neighbour’s (aka Matt Dauncey’s) disco-boogie-funk-house-whatever. I had spoken to him on the phone earlier, and we made plans to slip away somewhere before his set for an interview. Very good. In the meantime, I thought I’d stop by the Alix Goolden Hall and see what the scene was like there. I finished off the last of my dog, downed the dregs of a can of Pilsner, and with my dancing shoes in a sorry state, I went out into the rainy night.

Alix Goolden Hall

The smoke had just cleared after DJ Wood’s set, and the Tabla Guy was about to take the stage. I won’t go into detail about his performance—check out Amanda Farrell-Low‘s post for that info—but I gotta say that I fully agree with her regarding the piece he played on the hang drum:  it was magical, and the crowd, me included, swooned. Feeling satisfied and ready to tackle my interview with Neighbour, I hopped on my bike and headed to Lucky Bar. (As an aside, I did eventually return to the Goolden to catch a bit of Aesop Rock, and I have to agree again with Amanda—that venue is not suited to loud, bassy acts; the crowd was jammin’ along quite nicely, but the beats and rhymes were lost in space.)

Lucky Bar

I found Matt Dauncey at the bar, and we decided to zip around the corner for a slice of pizza at The Joint, and talk about, well, him.  That interview will be posted up here in a few hours, along with the rest of my night’s adventures, but right now I have to head off for an interview with Victoria’s alt-country crooner Clay George.  He’s playing tonight at the Alix Goolden, opening up for headliners the Great Lake Swimmers.  Back soon with more . . . .

Interview with Neighbour

Jay Morritt:  (gobbling a slice of cheese pizza) I always forget napkins. But you need them to swab up the grease, yeah? Yeah. Ok, well first question:  tell me about your label, Homebreakin records.

Matt Dauncey:  It’s a great label. It started five years ago, when me and my buddy Cal sent a bunch of music out to a bunch of labels, and there was some interest, but no one who was stepping up to release it.  So we looked into how much it would cost to press vinyl, and it wasn’t that expensive, and we found a distributor who said that if we could give them the next three releases then they could count on us as  a label, and so we got it together, and that’s how it started.  We’re not a label in the sense of like trying to take over the world or anything—it’s more a platform to get the music out there to the people who would enjoy it. By the time the label was really going, I was 23, and I wasn’t even taking my electronic music seriously as a career path—I was playing guitar in Celtic bands and making ends meet, just gigging. But I’ve always had those two paths going, and for me it’s not about one or the other. To make a long story short, I made some records, they were good, and people asked me to make more of them.

JM:  It just kinda happened.

MD:  Yeah, I mean I was in the studio geeking out everyday anyway, and the label was just a reason to start sending it out there. It’s been really natural, and for me that’s what my DJ career is about—I’m not trying to blow it out, visit 9 continents in a year—it’s about playing good gigs for nice people.

JM:  So let’s talk about gigs. You’ve been busy—Shambhala, Soundwave, a bunch of other festivals, what does that circuit mean to you?

MD: Well it’s pretty much because of doing festivals like Shambhala that I got so pumped up on the whole DJ thing.  It was my ninth year this year, and the first time I went to Shambhala I was 19, so it was an impressionable period. I was in jazz school studying guitar in Calgary, and I would go to BC in the summers. I started going to festivals and meeting people, not really noticing how much of an effect it was having on my perception of music. But after two summers of that it was like “that’s what I want to make; that’s what I want to do.” The festivals started supporting me and booking me, and Shambala led to a lot of gigs locally. Because Calgary’s scene is so competitive, and there’s so few clubs that will play my sort of stuff, I needed the credibility that came with playing larger festivals.  But the festivals themselves, I mean what can you say, they’re pretty fuckin’ sweet. If you like people and you like dancing, they’re good; if you people and you don’t like dancing, they’re probably still good; if you don’t like people, you won’t like it (laughs).

JM:  What’s inspiring you right now?

MD:  I was in Brazil this year, and that’s hands-down the biggest influence in the last six months. As far as what I like in general, I like songwriting—I like to hear elements of actual song craft. People talk about dance music as being tracks, buliding blocks to make something larger, but I also like songs that can stand on their own and are just enjoyable to listen to. So good songwriting and good production—there’s an art to both of those, and to just chase that and get better at it is what inspires me.

JM:  I know you’re into the existentialist writers—Beckett, Camus—do you pull inspiration from that stuff for your music?

MD:  Well the existentialists have something to say about life being absurd, you know, like “what’s it for?”, and so my take is why not be that guy who gets to jam out in the sun and play disco records for people, because I happen to be good at it.  Why not?  I think the people who have the most fun are the ones who decide that, whatever they’re doing, they may-as-well do it to the max because—

JM:  Life is absurd anyway, and what else are you doing with your time?

MD:  Yeah. What else are you doing with your time?

JM:  You know that Albert Camus said “I know nothing more stupid than to die in an automobile accident,” and then died in an automobile accident? Now there’s absurdity for you.

MD:  (laughs) I didn’t know that—that’s totally poetic.

JM:  I have only one other question. I know you like the old British comedy The Young Ones—I love that show, and moreover I think it has one of the best theme songs of all time (I do a short and soul-stirring rendition).

MD:  (big laughs) That’s a rad show! Nobody knows about it.

JM:  I feel the same way—whenver I mention it, people just like blink.  So you’ve never remixed it, the song, eh? Well I’ll leave you with that challenge then, sir.

MD:  I may just have to make you your own personal custom mix. . . .

(Ok Mr. Dauncey—I’ve got it down here in writing.  I’m totally counting on that Young Ones mix. Bring it on!)

–Jay Morritt

The Rest of Thursday Night

After my interview with Neighbour, I disappeared from Lucky for a while, so I could catch a few other acts. I biked down Store St. to Rehab Nightclub—I saw other Rifflandians stumbling down the sidewalks in packs, zombies with a hunger for songs, not brains. Speaking of zombies, I could hear the Dayglo Abortions’ epic-loud set long before I reached the club. Once inside, I have to say I was disappointed—I had seen the Dayglo’s like ten years ago, in London Ontario, and it was one of the wildest performances I’ve ever witnessed. So much reckless energy. But on this night, they could have been any other tired group of older dudes half asleep at their instruments, adrift on a wave of colossally distorted fuzz.  That may be a bit harsh, but compared to their former energy and intensity, it’s an apt description.  Oh well.

That’s when I booked it back toward the Metro Theater, hoping to catch the tail end of Lee Ranaldo’s set.  But folks were all filing out into the streets at that point, and so I popped over to the Goolden again to see Aesop Rock, and then back to Lucky Bar for the rest of the night to party with Neighbour and Kenzie Clarke.  I’ll say more about that later, but right now it’s time for me to have my dinner and head out for another night of music.  More soon,

–Jay Morritt

I’ll Say More About That Later (Now).

Ok, so Friday night is finished—It’s almost 3am, and I’m at my desk looking out the window at a blessedly quiet Cook St.  Some seriously awesome performances I’ve witnessed tonight, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about it all.  Or like later today. Hey, do you remember that band Silverchair’s big hit with the chorus about waiting till tomorrow?  I’m sorry, I’m so tired that I’m beyond stopping myself from indulging in highschool memories right now.  But really, I still have to sum up Thursday night. Quickly. It goes like this:  Neighbour and Kenzie Clarke rocked a familiar drunken scene at Lucky Bar with steady determination. Neighbour was more house and disco than funk and soul on this night (a bit to my chagrin—but I think his sound suited the atmosphere), and after I left I ran into my good buddy Joey MacDonald, of Olio Artists and Workers Co-op (please appreciate his hard work on Rifflandia show posters—particularly his awesome Gord Downey effort—a portrait of the artist, hand-scored on wood panel! ), and we had a beer together before calling it a night. Love that man.

Now it is sleep time. Friday night has been full of riches, and I look forward to tossing some gold bullion into the realm of the ether-web, after I get some zzz’s.

Your Urban Warrior,

-Jay E. Morritt

Into the Mist

24 09 2010

It was a bit of a soggy start to Rifflandia lastnight, but that didn’t stop the city from coming out to play. Heading into the soggy night to catch a bit of Brasstronaut’s set at Market Square, you could tell something was afoot; in addition to the moisture, there was a great energy in the air as folks wandered the streets, their purple wristbands a tell-tale sign that they were fellow Rifflandians.

First up on my list was a stop at Market Square to check Brasstronaut. I’d heard earlier that the lineup to get in was crazy (tales of 400 folks lining up to see the Sunday Buckets open the square were circulating the Twitterverse) but by the time we got there at around 9 p.m., the wait wasn’t more than a couple of minutes—although when we left half an hour later, there was a sizable line waiting to get in to see Grand Analog and K’naan. The sextet from Vancouver delivered their dreamy brand of jazzy pop to fans huddled under the covered area of Market Square—and the weather couldn’t have been a more perfect match for their atmospheric sound. We stuck around long enough to hear a couple of songs, including “Hearts Trompet,” which is up for the Echo Songwriting Prize, before high-tailing it up to the Alix Goolden Hall to catch the Tabla Guy, Mount Kimbie and Aesop Rock.

We slipped into the Goolden with ease, settling into a pew on the upper level as the Tabla Guy started his set. If Brasstronaut playing in the misty rain was a good fit, then the Tabla Guy, aka Gurpreet Chana, playing in the Goolden was an even better one. Accompanied by  Mason Bach on electric violin and live PA (his laptop had a cute little “I ❤ MB” sticker on it) for a few songs, Chana managed to captivate the crowd in the Goolden—a crowd that, I’m assuming, wasn’t necessarily there to see him. The highlight of the performance was a song called “Raindrops,” which was played on a hang drum. Chana completely captivated the crowd, inspiring a hushed awe at one moment and then a clap-along the next.

After the Tabla guy finished his set, we waited for Mount Kimbie to take the stage. And waited. And waited. It seems the U.K.-based duo was having some equipment issues (there was a wide range of electronic gear sitting on the table and a rat’s nest of cords on the floor) and ended up starting about 40 minutes late. Sadly, it meant they had to play a very abbreviated set, and even that was plagued with some bad feedback. It was disappointing, as the brief set was an interesting one, starting with more ambient mixtures of electronic samples mixed with live drums and guitar before wandering into the more bass-heavy territory that has garnered them the “post-dubstep” label.

Aesop Rock. Photo by Casey Bennett.

Up next was the set many had been waiting for: oddball hip-hop artist Aesop Rock. I find the Goolden to not be the best place for a hip-hop show; sure, it’s an amazingly beautiful space, but it was built without amplification in mind, so really bass-heavy music gets muddled and vocals can be hard to make out. This meant many of the finer nuances of an Aesop Rock show—his wacky rhymes and distinctive voice—were lost. Luckily, Aesop is a very engaging performer; he and co-MC Rob Sonic criss-crossed the Goolden’s stage and kept the crowd amped with a bit of help from DJ Big Whiz, who did some impressive turntablism and even some video mixing and scratching. Another great thing about the show was that, because he wasn’t touring a particular album, Aesop played favourites from his entire discography, including “Lucy,” “None Shall Pass” one of my favourite songs, “Fast Cars.” So yeah, maybe not the optimal venue for a hip-hop gig, but a high-energy and high-quality show nonetheless.

Wandering back on to Quadra Street around 1 a.m., I was filled with the feeling that my excellent Thursday night at Rifflandia was a sign of the weekend ahead. Bring it on!

Rifflandia 3//Night 1 (Photos)

24 09 2010

Rifflandia numero Trois kicked off with a little rain, but that wasn’t enough to wash out some great shows featuring some of musics more original and diverse artists. This is my second year covering Rifflandia for Monday Magazine as a photographer and it’s so exciting not knowing what to expect once you walk through the entrance, past the security and into the venue. It’s one great discovery after another. I had a list of bands I was hoping to see and of course, like last year, I had to compromise due to timing and location, but it didn’t upset me. I ended up photographing some great acts and I walked away brand new fans of Grand Analog and Brasstronaut. This is why I love, love, LOVE this festival. Here are some photographs to kick off this years Rifflandia Music Festival.
From top to bottom: Mike Edel//Sound and Science//Brasstronaut//Grand Analog//Current Swell//Acres of Lions//Aesop Rock

All photographs by Casey Bennett

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